To my post Did God Cause Kids to Die in Connecticut, some objected that it did not go far enough. Some believed that it was necessary to say that God actually caused the school shooting for the purpose of judging Americans for kicking God out of our schools. Yesterday, I demonstrated why that position is inaccurate. Today, I look to a different objection, one that says my original post went too far.
The original post argued that Adam Lanza was the immediate cause for the evil. As such, God would hold him accountable for his sins. In addition, I argued that God was also active throughout the event, causing it to work together for His ultimate good. In all events, there is both a temporal (immediate) and eternal (ultimate) purpose. Some disagree, stating that this theological idea goes too far.
Specifically, some say that viewing God as having a purpose to accomplish through evil makes God evil. Some even say it would be cruel to tell a child that God has a cause to accomplish through the school shooting in Connecticut. So, I ask, Is it evil to say God orders evil for His ultimate purposes? I don’t think so for at least two reasons.
First, if God does not order evil for His ultimately good purposes, who does? If evil exists independently—apart from God’s authority over it—then there is a force (or being) outside of God’s control. If this is true, then God is diminished—He is not omnipotent. God is omnipotent only if he has the power to accomplish all of His will. If there is a force (like Satan or human free will) which operates independently of God’s ultimate control, then God may not be able to accomplish all of His will (because there would be a force opposing His will which He does not control). If that is true, then whatever else God may be, he could not be called sovereign or omnipotent. He could not guarantee that His ultimate will would be done. He could only guarantee that He would do His very best to accomplish His will.
Of course, there is the possibility that no one orders evil. That evil is some chaotic, non-directed force inherent in the universe without regard to an ordered will such as God’s (or Satan’s). But, again, I would say that an all-powerful God could not coexist with a force outside of His control. One could argue for a system of gods who are at war to establish good and evil (and authority and power), but one is not able to pretend that God is somehow sovereign but also not sovereign over free will or over evil. That would be like saying you are an unmarried man but you are not a bachelor. Either God is sovereign, or he is not.
Second, if there is no God, or if God is not sovereign over evil–using it to accomplish His purposes–then there would be no purpose for suffering and no hope in times of loss. It might seem insensitive to tell young people that God has an ultimate purpose for this loss of life. It might seem harsh to suppose that God’s will somehow mysteriously encompasses the loss of twenty children in a Connecticut school around Christmastime. But as harsh as that might seem, it is nowhere near as harsh as saying that the children were lost with no purpose or meaning at all. It would be even worse to say that they were lost to the purposes of evil.
God does not work some things out according to the purpose of His inscrutable will. He works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). It is not cruel to admit that glorious fact in the face of suffering; it is helpful and hopeful. What would be cruel would be to leave people without the hope of redemption. In this world, there will be the heartache of deep loss. Jesus was never unclear about that point.
It does not go too far to say what Jesus says (and what the Scripture teaches): God is sovereign, and now all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20). God is sovereign over evil. It is under His control—even if for a season we do not understand how that dynamic works. We can trust the ultimate hand of God to accomplish a good purpose through all of man’s evil (so Acts 4:28). And in this world of tragedy, sin, and loss, we have the Word of God to instruct us:
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, nasb).
- Did God Cause Kids to Die in Connecticut? (gregoryccochran.com)
- Was Connecticut Shooting God’s Judgment? (gregoryccochran.com)